A singularly odd thing happened on Friday at the Singhu border. The farmers protesting three new laws brought by the Narendra Modi government-produced before the media a masked man.
He claimed that he and a few accomplices were sent by an unknown outfit to pose as policemen. They were apparently tasked with beating up farmers with batons on Republic Day if they tried to proceed to the heart of Delhi. But it does not stop there.
The man said they were told to kill four farmers' leaders as well. The protesting farmers have handed them over to the Haryana Police.
A day later, he claimed he was accosted by some people who abducted him, stripped him, and beat him up with belts for telling the media what he did.
Meanwhile, many Indians including this columnist kept receiving voice-recorded calls supporting the creation of Khalistan from US and Canada numbers. These have been for a couple of months urging all to make the 26 January mobilisation as largescale and disruptive as possible.
This is despite the Supreme Court suspending the implementation of the laws, the government agreeing to discuss and work alternatives to all the demands, and even offering to put the legislation on hold for one-and-a-half years.
Are you wondering why the farmers are being so stubborn?
Because this is not just a farmer protest. Farmers are just cannon fodder in this political attempt to wage an insurrection against the popularly elected government.
The Left faces an existential threat in India. It faces another wipeout in Bengal and may do poorly in Kerala in elections due this year. Kerala is the only state where it has any chance of electorally get power in the foreseeable future.
Emboldened by the farmers’ protest, the Left trade unions are also trying to stir themselves up to create trouble for the government.
But why is the Left getting so desperate to create trouble?
Where is it getting hundreds of crores to sustain the movement?
How is it aligning globally with small and shadowy forces like Khalistanis?
Who is funding the Khalistanis?
And most importantly, who is the master puppeteer that stands to gain the most if violent anarchy is let loose on India’s streets? In my previous column, I tried to analyse this string of pressing questions.
If violence happens on 26 January and people get killed in retaliatory police firing, it will hurt Modi. It will create a ground to provoke further flare-up, and he can then be branded as the man who ordered the killing of farmers. This is why these forces do not want any compromise.
If the farmers’ issue gets sorted and the BJP does well in the Assembly elections this year, Modi will get a massive boost to his political capital for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election and 2024 General Election to Lok Sabha.
Modi is the first BJP leader who could create a rock-solid voter base of the poor, Dalits, farmers, and generally the underdog. He succeeded in overwriting the perception of the BJP as a Brahmin-Bania party, which had stuck on for decades.
He will not let that be wasted in a fit of unthinking toughness.
This is exactly why the government has uncharacteristically bent backward to placate the farmers. It has, under full media glare, been at its accommodative best with the farmers' leaders. It is getting increasingly clear to the common public now that whatever the government might do, the protesters are tone-deaf. They seem to be puppets whose strings are with dark, invisible forces playing in the deep background.
There is one miscalculation on their part though: their charade of a moral struggle is slipping. Like a petulant child’s COVID-19 mask.